Thursday, March 10, 2016

Site Placement

Here’s another post simply to say: I KNOW WHERE I AM GOING TO BE FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS!!!! So the way that they revealed where we were going was through an insane game of Pictionary. There were 5 teams, one giant map of Guyana with post-it notes all over it, and a room full of emotionally amped “adults” coated in our accustomed South American sweat. Each time a team guessed the picture correctly the drawer got to go up to the map and reveal a site where one of us was going. I have never been dripping sweat so aggressively while sitting in one spot in my entire life! I was revealed pretty quickly into the game, someone pointed to the farthest post-it note to the west and sure enough there I was. I will be serving in Waramuri village in Mourca, Region 1. I will be the only one in my group (GUY 28) going to that region. 

From Georgetown (the capitol), I'll have to take a minibus for an hour to the Essequibo river and then across the 23 mile wide river on a speed boat, another hour long minibus ride to Charity, and then will have to take a boat up the Pomeroon river, out into the Atlantic to reach the river head for the Mourka River, which then runs through my village. Let’s just say that I have enough money to travel to the coast once a month haha. I work in a health center and will be living in a village with 432 members that are predominately Amerindian. I get to travel there next Saturday to see what the site is like, what the health center is like, and what projects my counterpart Dr. Lewis will have for me. The site doesn’t really have any running water, electricity, flushing toilets, or wifi capability. That being said though, I will have some limited cell access, because they have a tower, but I’m just not sure how reliable that signal will be. All that to say that I have grown accustomed to "gaffing" (creolese for chatting), liming (hanging out), and in general enjoying the silence since I've arrived. There is a simple beauty that comes with lack of amenities, that's for sure.

I am ridiculously pumped to be going somewhere new and with a lot to see, so it seems, but I am bummed that I will be 3 hours from my closest group member. The GUY 28 (30 of us) cohort has become family so quickly and the hugs, laughs, deep conversations, and random pranks/walks/secrets handshakes/squaaa poses are going to be desperately missed. It seems crazy to think that we’ll be so far apart after being together for the past 5 weeks here in Training, somehow when you force a group of 30 Americans to spend a ridiculous amount of time together in a foreign country they become instant soul mates, weird. Our sites range from the west coast to the east coast all the way down to the furthest point in Guyana known as Region 9, which is 18 hours away from me and of course 2 of the 5 of the Mainstay 5 are placed there...RIP Mainstay 5, RIP (Don't worry we've already made reunion plans); however, I get to come into town once a month to retrieve my monthly stipend which means that I get to see my host family once a month!! I’ve grown ridiculously attached to these kids and my host mom. The other day I was going to celebrate site placements with the Mainstay 5 volunteers at one of their houses and as I was leaving, Jaime, the 5-year-old, yells out after me, “I miss you every time you go Amber” as the rest of the family watched me walk down the street. Jerry, the 10-year-old, was getting ready to get in the shower (we all bathe in a line of youngest to oldest as we wait outside for each other) and he stopped and turned around, looked at me and said, “Amber, when you get to your new host family, you know that this is still your home right?” I just about melted in my spot, both times. They are such wonderful humans and it seems as if living with them is God's little message in the clouds saying, "I've got you kid, let's do this together". Okay I’ll leave this off with a few pictures of the family and the group. 

 This is one of the most classic Taylour and Amber pictures that could have ever been captured. =] 

We were invited to an East Indian wedding one weekend and were able to dress in traditional garb to witness the ceremony! 

Then we had a cultural day where we dressed in traditional Amerindian, African, and Indian garb and learned about norms and traditional practices done by each group.

This group is the OG Squaaa, we bonded on the first night in Miami chilling in a room as I played guitar and we exchanged jokes, and we have stuck together through the PST (Pre-Service Training) process. 

Guys, this one is my host siblings (Kimberle, Jerry, Kindle, and Jaime). I already love them more than I should considering the small amount of time that I have known them. Each one of them is so ridiculously unique and adds this wonderful dynamic to one incredible family to be a part of. 

Pre-Service Training Deets

Social Media World,

Hello, it’s been a while since I’ve touched base eh? I’ve been placed in my host family in Mainstay village, which is a modernized yet still somewhat remote Amerindian village. The village has about 500 inhabitants and there are SO many kids who live here. My family has 4 kids: Kimberle – 13, Jeremiah – 10, Kindle – 9, and Jaime – 5 and my host mom Naomi.

My host dad is in the interior, which means that he’s in the jungle mining for gold on months on end. I might get to meet him at some point in time before I leave, rumor has it. They are freaky awesome and remind me so much of my siblings back at home.

We don’t have any wifi and the internet data is pretty slow so I don’t get a chance to get on social media very often, but when I do, I promise I'll make it worthwhile.

I am one of 5 volunteers placed here in Mainstay, so of course we became the Mainstay 5 and actually spend quite a bit of time together considering it is very hard to get to the coast to meet up with the other volunteers. They are: Zach, Taylour, Gabrielle, and Kristina! Taylour is the other Health volunteer and the rest of the three are the education volunteers. Taylour and I have already done a health talk in the school and we got to listen to a fetal heartbeat during antenatal care clinic. Also, we were able to observe vaccinations, and dengue protocol. Not bad for the past 5 weeks. 

This was the first night that we were at Mainstay and the kids were displaying their cultural dance. I later learned that two of the kids in the dance troupe are in my family, Kindle and Jerry! 

 This is them playing red light green light, which later became a regular game they played at their school.

This is my backyard with the neighborhood kids, two of the Mainstay 5 (Zach and Gabrielle), and my host siblings!

This is another of the Mainstay 5, Taylour, and I at a cultural event where we all had to dress up as different cultures found in Guyana. If you can't tell, we're Amerindian. =]

My host mom celebrated her birthday with us on February 21st, so we all had cake and toasted! Jerry wants to make it clear that he is embarrassed that I am posting this and that he doesn't have a shirt on (he's the oldest boy, 10).

This is a group of neighborhood kids and my littlest sister Kindle (she's on the top far left).

So I have to start getting used to actually working hard at chores here. I do my laundry by hand and hang it out on the line and have to wash sheets once a week plus on Saturday we all have chores day. We deep clean the house, shower, pit latrine, and sweep inside and outside of the house. Also, this is my backyard! The rest of the green is jungle!